This summer, a slew of people are getting bit by an infectious bug. No, not the disease-carrying mosquitoes and ticks currently commandeering summer BBQs, but rather the love bug—and the main symptom is…immediate engagement. Seriously, it might even be highly contagious.
Need evidence? Just 24 days after going public with their romantic relationship, Saturday Night Live cast member Pete Davidson and singer Ariana Grande made it diamond-ring official. Then, after, like, a month or less of dating, singer Justin Bieber and model Hailey Baldwin got engaged a few weeks ago. And now, two months into coupledom, singer Nick Jonas and actress Priyanka Chopra are reportedly following suit. (Maybe they were testing these “forever” waters with their matching gold not-engagement rings after all.) Quick? Objectively yes. But, for the love of love, why?
Sure, the amount of time that lapses before a given person feels “ready” varies, but according to the most recent data from the US Census Bureau, the average age for a woman’s first marriage (which has been on the rise since it was age 20 in 1950) is the highest it’s ever been at 27 years old. So, psychotherapist Alison Stone, LCSW, tells me, “While I agree that we are largely influenced and inspired by celebrities, I’m not sure this trend is affecting the general masses just yet.” (Key word being yet. As with fashionable fanny packs and full eyebrows, celebrities could be setting a trend that will soon trickle down to us normals.)
The Mars retrograde “can make you feel like you’re in love with someone when it’s really all about sex.” —astrologer Stefanie Iris Weiss
So truly, it’s out of curiosity, not BS-calling, that I’m left to wonder, Carrie Bradshaw–style, what’s driving Hollywood to act as if the whole world is a season of The Bachelor. Because on that show—and this summer’s new ABC reality show, The Proposal, in which contestants go from strangers to engaged within an hour-long episode—the goal is to put a ring on it and then see if things work out. It appeals to a fairy-tale-loving, rom-com-bingeing hopeless romantic who extrapolates the promise of potential for a slam-dunk happily ever after without worrying about what happens between first-impression roses and till death do us part.
Perhaps what’s at play is the very ubiquity of TV shows peddling a version of the romantic ideal that more so mirrors fast food than fine wine. But going all in during the infatuation stage of a romance presents serious risk, Stone cautions. “Relationships are usually full of excitement in the beginning but ultimately need to be able to withstand the ups and downs of life if they are going to evolve and sustain as a long term committed partnership,” she says.
Still, none of this answers the question: “But why now?” Is it publicity? Just because everyone else is doing it? Is there something in the water? A fire sale on conflict-free diamonds at Harry Winston? Well, according to astrologer Stefanie Iris Weiss of the Saturn Sisters, it could be in the stars. Mars is currently in retrograde, which Weiss says is significant because it’s the planet associated with speed, rage, anger, and frustration. “It’s our basic energetic drive. But more than anything else, Mars is sexual desire,” she says. Furthermore, the impulsive spirit of this celestial occurrence—which only happens every few years—can make people want to Lock. It. Down. Weiss says the retrograde can make a person think, “‘I have to seal the deal on my desire now, or something might go horribly wrong.’ It can take a relationship from zero to 60 very quickly,” she says.
This could be why newborn celebrity couples are hardly the only ones sprinting toward a legally binding union. There’s a whole bunch of star power making engagements a full-on trend that’s eclipsing the more common seasonal romance of a summer fling. Singer-actress Katharine McPhee and music mogul (and former Real House Husband of Beverly Hills) David Foster were reportedly dating for about a year before he recently popped the question—to get married for a fifth time, no less. And fitness #goals couple Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez might be next, based on a photo she shared on Instagram of the two in which she’s conspicuously wearing a ring on that finger.
Was gonna wait a while to say anything but word travels fast, listen plain and simple Hailey I am soooo in love with everything about you! So committed to spending my life getting to know every single part of you loving you patiently and kindLY. I promise to lead our family with honor and integrity letting Jesus through his Holy Spirit guide us in everything we do and every decision we make. My heart is COMPLETELY and FULLY YOURS and I will ALWAYS put you first! You are the love of my life Hailey Baldwin and I wouldn’t want to spend it with anybody else. You make me so much better and we compliment eachother so well!! Can’t wait for the best season of life yet!. It’s funny because now with you everything seems to make sense! The thing I am most excited for is that my little brother and sister get to see another healthy stable marriage and look for the same!!! Gods timing really is literally perfect, we got engaged on the seventh day of the seventh month, the number seven is the number of spiritual perfection, it’s true GOOGLE IT! Isn’t that nuts? By the way I didn’t plan that, anyways My goodness does feel good to have our future secured! WERE GONNA BE BETTER AT 70 BABY HERE WE GO! “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains FAVOR from the Lord!” This is the year of favor!!!!
Only confirming Weiss’ astrological take is the Instagram post Bieber shared, very enthusiastically confirming his engagement and love, like a 2018 version of Tom Cruise’s 2005 meltdown on Oprah’s couch. “You are the love of my life Hailey Baldwin and I wouldn’t want to spend it with anybody else,” he writes, among other sweet nothings and demands for his followers to google the numerological significance of their engagement date. “It’s funny because now with you everything seems to make sense! [sic]” But Weiss warns that the Mars retrograde “can make you feel like you’re in love with someone when it’s really all about sex.” Ruh-roh.
While Stone contends it’s totally possible to meet someone, get hitched quickly after a whirlwind romance, and enjoy many years of happy, healthy marital bliss (we all know someone, right?), it’s also possible that Instagram could be giving subliminal engagement instructions, Inception-style. “We are very susceptible to influence, and social media provides a platform for us to compare ourselves to friends, families, strangers, and celebrities multiple times per hour,” she says. “So, if everyone you know is getting engaged—or even if that’s simply your perception—and you are currently in a relationship, you may feel that you should get engaged too.” Yep, that’s right, folks: Engagements could be contagious.
Social media addiction could be sticking around for a bit (though some tech companies want to help you curb your vice), but this inexplicable summer of love will likely end after Mars goes direct on August 27. But before the heat dies out, mark your calendar for August 19, when Weiss says Jupiter and Neptune will be in a configuration that’s “über-romantic yet potentially overconfident,” feeling like a fairy tale. “Jupiter can amplify all the feelings engendered by Neptune, which can make you feel like you’re swimming around in pink glitter even on an average day,” she says. You’d be well advised to stay grounded during this time—and, of course, keep a close eye on Bella Hadid, the Weeknd, and their back-on-again romance.
Originally published July 9, 2018; updated July 27, 2018.
Lean into the romantic vibes the universe is serving this summer by planning a stargazing date—these are the best nights to do it. And if the Mars retrograde has thrown you for an emotional loop, check out the best way to de-stress, according to your astrological sign.
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